chapter  4
24 Pages

Numbers: The Cardinal Approach

Most languages are unsystematic below ten, with the exception of Basque, where the word for nine is bederatzi meaning ‘one lower’, in the same way as undeviginti means nineteen in Latin. Nine, (ennea), novem, neuf, neun, was the new number, and perhaps goes back to a time when our ancestors were beginning to go beyond the numbers they all could see at a glance, and were able to answer ‘Nine’ when asked ‘How Many?’ only by resorting to the new method of counting. Eight, octo, was originally a dual, perhaps expressed by the two hands being held up showing four fingers apiece.